When you have 5 kids Christmas is a busy time of year. Christmas presents have been on my mind lately, so in the few spare minutes I have between driving all around Central Texas to various holiday functions, and today celebrating a 3 year old’s birthday party, I though I’d write about some things I’ve seen recently that would make good presents. Use caution, most of these are only appropriate if given to another engineer.
A USB flash drive is always a handy thing to have around. Over on Instructables you can find all sorts of ways to take a plain old USB stick and dress it up into something cool, retro, or unusual. There is a USB flash hard drive, a thumb drive that looks like a thumb, LEGO block USB stick, LEGO dude USB stick, Rubik’s cube USB stick, pendant USB stick, and of course a USB Altoids tin stick. In case you weren’t aware, there is a whole category of Altoids tin projects at Instructables.
In the category of over-the-top-modern-items-in-retro-disguises there is the Port-O-Rotary from the folks over at Spark Fun. It’s an actual rotary phone that has been hollowed out and had the guts replaced with a cell phone module. All it needs is a SIM card to be functional. When you get a call, the original loud mechanical bells ring, and when you pick up the handset to make a call you get a dial tone. The rotary dialer actually works. The included Li-ion battery gives you a talk time of 4-5 days. (Impromptu poll — Leave a comment saying if you’ve ever used a rotary phone before).
How about a DC voltmeter and power supply built into a Fez wearing monkey?
Or a Menorah made from LEDs and Star Trek Pez dispensers?
And if your friends have more sophisticated tastes that the above suggestions would satisfy (and you don’t want to trade them for a set of tacky friends), you can try a set of wine charms made from electronic components.
Happy Christmas, and remember there are only 1.9e5 shopping seconds left.